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Amateur Birder's Journal - Bird Photographs & Stories by J R Compton.

Books & Links
© 2006 – 2015 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved

THIS PAGE:   Bird I.D. Books  Bird I.D. Sites  White Rock Lake   Local Bird Groups & Other Links
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This page was sadly out of date on Thursday November 5, 2015 when I began updating it. I will continue, including finding new websites and other links, but this page is only updated down to about here.

Green Heron with Wings Up - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heroon with Wings Up at White Rock Lake


The Amateur Birder's Journal - begun in June 2006, it continues on a near-daily path showing what's going on with birds at White Rock Lake, and sometimes, when I go on vacation, down along Texas' Gulf Coast, San Antonio, The Lower Rio Grande Valley and other places in and out of Texas. There's a lot of bird-related pages here, but it is not its own site. It is wholly contained in Dallas Bird & Art Photographer J R Compton's personal website.

Dallas Trinity Trails - Ben's website is lively, informative, and it shows lots of excellent photographs. He describes it thusly: "This practical guide takes readers to the best trails found in the Great Trinity Forest, all within easy reach of Downtown Dallas. Destinations include less traveled, low-traffic areas for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding in the City of Dallas. Joppa Preserve, McCommas Bluff Preserve, Trinity River Wetlands, Texas Horse Park, Dallas Trinity Paddling Trail, Lower White Rock Creek, Sycamore Dixon, Texas Buckeye Trail, Dallas Whitewater Wave, Levee Trails, Rochester Park and more.." Wow! This is the best Dallas-area birding site I've seen.

DFW Urban Wildlife - Documenting the Diversity of Dallas/Fort Worth Urban Wildlife. This is a site I will use to find more variety than just covering White Rock Lake.

Xenogere - Birds, animals, insects and beyond by Jason M. Hogle, who used to help me identify birds. Now he doesn't even answer my emails, but his site is always fascinating.

Birds in Flight - oh, I do so hate home pages with dozens of pictures too tiny to see what they are, but here's another one of those. Oddly implemented, not the absolute best photographs, but not the worst, either. Only reason I visited this time was to see if it was still there, and it is.

DigDeep - nice internet implementation, good sense of design, but the photographs are lacking in density and contrast. A lot of statistics, but nice close-ups of birds.


My own version of a White Rock Lake Map is the best map of White Rock Lake that shows what's there now, and each place is annotated with bird species I have seen or photographed there. For traffic maps, see Google or MapQuest. For birds, this is it. I followed a dozen links to "White Rock Lake Map" online only to find none of those pages did that. Mine does.

White Rock Lake Museum
in the Bath House Cultural Center is an excellent source of general history of the lake, but their web page is missing. The Watermelon Kid shows and tells more than the Museum's own web page, not site.

The White Rock Creek entry in Wikipedia

The White Rock Lake entry in Wikipedia is lovely and informative, although its photography section need to be greatly expanded.


Painted Bunting at The Heard Museum grounds - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Indigo Bunting on the Trail at the Heard Museum



Audubon Dallas - and their links page of Texas bird groups includes info about the White Rock area.

Dallas Audubon Bird Chat Forum - Bird Chat is free to browse, but you have to register (free!) to post. This may be the one best source for bird information in and around Dallas and the north-east end of Texas. For more than the birds somebody's seen and photographed, visit Dallas Audubon Bird Talk Forums

The Virtual Birder the most recent entry on Texas Rare Bird Alerts is from October 2010, which is to say, as an alert, it's not very alert. Check out Bird Chat above.

Texas Wildlife Identification & Viewing Guide - has only a very few Texas birds.

North Central Texas Birds - a checklist of birds detailing their relative abundance

Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. comes up as site under construction with no pages to be seen November 5, 2015. The right way to update a site is to leave it up till you've got all the replacement pages, then replace them. This non-implementation gives credence to the rumors that Rogers has gone under.

The Sounds of Birds


Report a Banded Bird



The White Rock Lake Foundation   The Foundation was founded by Jeannie Terilli in 1989 as Friends of White Rock Lake. In 1993, the name was changed to The White Rock Lake Foundation. The Purpose of the Foundation is to assist the Park and  Recreation Department in restoration, improvement, maintenance and preservation of White Rock Lake's natural health and beauty for the benefit of the people and wildlife.

For the Love of the Lake  For the Love of the Lake (FTLOTL)  is a political organization who claims to be a group of volunteers dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of White Rock Lake Park as an urban oasis. Since its inception in 1995, thousands of grass-roots volunteers have participated from picking up litter and recyclables, to assisting in building renovations at the park, to helping with the White Rock Marathons and other local events.

Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is a nonprofit wildlife rescue organization specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured, sick or orphaned birds of all types. Their goal is to restore to health and independence these precious creatures so they may be released back into their natural environment. They also sell fresh, free-range eggs from organically fed chickens.



When I searched for "hawks" on The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a much prettier though busy-looking site, and  I got a page of hawks to choose from.

What Bird has one of the ugliest interfaces on the web. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. So I'm curious whether a recent photo is really a Red-tailed Hawk, so I look up hawks, and I see woodpeckers, owls, orioles, sandpipers, gooses, and even some hawks. Did this interface just happen or did somebody actually design it?

For awhile, Sibley's Guide to Birds was online, but that was clearly a mistake, because they're still trying to sell the basic best bird I.D book available. The site was a class act, very well done. I used it several times before they took it away. Too bad. I have the books; I wanted a quicker interface than paging through paper.

Male Black-chinned Hummingbird - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Male Black-chinned Hummingbird with a beakfull of pollen
at Legacy Park in Arlington, Texas - June 2010


BOOKS - listed in order of usefulness

The Birds of Texas by Keith A. Arnold and Gregory Kennedy is apparently no longer published by Lone Pine Publishing International. ISBN-13: 978-976-8200-18-1 — has nice, big, single pictures of each species hereabouts and a great little, informative blurb about each bird but not much depth of detail or more than one or two pictures of each bird. It's a wonderful book that I dearly love and use to see nice big pix of Texas Birds, plus find great info about what they eat, where in Texas they hang out, what they say or sing, and where's best in Texas to find them. The informal story about each species is delightful. It's where I find out what Texas birds eat.

National Audubon Society - The Sibley Guide to Birds, written and profusely illustrated by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45122-6, $35.00, Alfred A. Knopf, Publisher - my favorite big book of birds. Kinda expensive, but the reference, with lots of morphs, developmental stages, sex and other vaiations detailed.

The Crossley ID Guide, Eastern Birds is taller and wider than either The National Audubon Society The Sibley Guide to Birds or Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of North America. It's noticeably thicker than Petersons and about as thick as The Sibley, but very different from either, because each specific bird species is shown in a variety of plumages, sexes and ages, from differing viewpoints and with some of their natural environments included. All images are photographs collaged on a single page.

It is a different sort of guide. All the images are photographs by Crossley. From Princeton Crossley Books, ISBN 978-691-14778-9, retailing at US $35.00 but less than that on Amazon, which shows what's different about this new guide. Each page is very busy with mobs of birds spotting, which without direct lighting, sometimes appear low contrast, but when Sibley or Peterson don't show the varieties in a single species, I go to Crossley. The type is small, thin, and difficult to read, with a large x-height and little linespacing. Being able to see the sexes, ages and differing plumages, however, is very useful. I wouldn't call it a replacement for the other books, but it's a different way of seeing, and often shows variations the others ignore.

Sibley's Birding Basics - How to identify birds, using the clues in feathers, habitats, behaviors and sounds by David Allen Sibley - ISBN 0-375-70966-5 $15.95, only I got it from Amazon probably cheaper

Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America - ISBN 978-0-618-96614-1 (I got mine for $9.98 new at Half Price Books (Inside flap says $26.00) - has bigger pix than Sibley's but not as many variations. Neither always includes both males and females.

The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America — Third Edition, ISBN 0-7922-6569-6, $7.99 in the bargain bin — is like the Golden Book of Birds with better color and printing, updated information, expanded coverage and larger, much more detailed illustrations, including many developmental stages, progressive flight images, and something many bird books ignore, like pictures of the females of the species.

Slick pages are nice for coffee table books, but this one uses thin, soft, offset paper, making pages easier to turn and the book easier to hold open. Most illustrations are on the right-hand page, with text and maps on the left, making it easier to search, and its smallish overall size makes it convenient to travel with.

Hawks From Every Angle - How to Identify Raptors in Flight by Jerry Liguori - ISBN 0-691-11825-6

National Audubon Society - The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, illustrated by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45123-4 $45 - Not terrific for identification of birds, but fabulous for knowing what specific birds do and why. Delicious, detailed information about the lives of birds. Nice illustrations, too, if smallish.

Peterson Reference Guides' Molt in North American Birds by Steve N.G. Howell - ISBN 978-0-547-15235-6 - $35.00 but less from Amazon - is a new book I've looked through to see if the person who recommended it to me was right when they insisted there would be photos of baby, immature and juvenile birds, but there are not.

Bird Books on my Shelf - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Best of My Bird I.D Books

Golden - A Guide to Field Identification - Birds of North America, Expanded, Revised Edition, ISBN 0-307-33656-5, 1983, 1966 - I bought this for a trip, probably to Canada or the Dakotas in the 1980s. Remarkably informative. I doubt it's still in print. Would be a find in a garage sale or thrift store bargain bin, as would any of the other, often physically dated, but remarkably informative Golden books.

The National Geographic Complete Birds of North America, companion to the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (abov), edited by Jonathan Alderfer, ISBN 0-7922-4175-4, $35.00 - has illustrations of bird species at differing developmental stages and morphs. It's a beautiful book.

Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail [in] Houson, Galveston & the Upper Texas Coast by Ted Lee Eubanks Jr., Robert A. Behrstock and Seth Davidson - ISBN-13 978-1-58544-534-9 - $23.00, but I'm sure I paid Amazon less - does pretty much what the title says, but it's not fascinating or entirely useful. The pictures don't always illustrate the ideas, more like they're just thrown in. We found more birds by just wandering around down there.

Smithsonian Handbooks - Birds of Texas by Fred J. Alsop III, ISBN 0-7894-8388-2, $22.95, DK www.dk.com

Fog City Press - The Encyclopedia of Birds — A Complete Visual Guide, ISBN 174089355-7, $7.99 Bargain Bin at Borders

Peterson First Guides - Birds, a simplified field guide to the common birds of North America, Roger Tory Peterson, ISBN 0-395-40684-6, $4.96 - Basic identification patterns, cursory illustrated list of common birds.

The Audubon Society Pocket Guides - Familiar Birds of North America, Western Region, ISBN 0-394-74842-5, $9.00

I don't have this one yet, but I've been studying the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding by Kenn Kaufman online. Vinyl bound is $14.28. ISBN-10: 0547248326 and ISBN-13: 978-0547248325. From what I've read in Amazon's sneak-peek, it looks like a big help in advanced bird identification. When and if I get it, I'll review it further here.

Egrets Chasing - copyright by J R Compton. All Rights Reserve.

Egrets Chasing  -  January 2008



I don't recommend books. I recommend people go to a bookstore or several bookstores or to their friends' houses — even a library — and look at books. Sooner or later, one will jump out at you.

You will recognize it because it will tell you what you need to know in ways you can appreciate. Or it entertains or excites you. When I discovered The Encyclopedia of Birds in the bargain bin at my neighborhood bookstore — for $7.99, I was enchanted with all the big color pictures of birds all over the world, including some right here in North Central Texas. And the price.

It can be as complete as Sibley's Guide to Birds, as complex as the mostly text Sibley's Guide to Bird Life & Behavior or as simple as The Golden Book of Birds (except they don't make that anymore. I have one, and I especially love the Golden Series of books about almost anything. When I taught photography in a community college, I suggested students buy The Golden Book of Photography, because it was $1 and had everything they needed to know to start. My Golden Book of Birds is so old it has all black and white illustrations.

What I'm saying is that I need Sibley's Guide to Birds and Sibley's Guide to Bird Life and Behavior and about twenty others, because I want to learn all that stuff. But I got them one at a time over years and years. You need what you need to learn stuff you want or need to learn when you're ready for it.

If all you identify is one bird a year, you don't need to buy a Sibley's. In fact, you may get away with going to the library or visiting What Bird dot Com. Libraries have lots of books to look at, and What Bird dot com has has some straightforward identification tools. Either might be just what you need.

I don't recommend any one book to everybody, like I don't recommend one camera to everybody. Everybody's needs are different. You are a better guide to what you want or need than anybody else, including experts, especially including some amateur who has an online bird blog.



The Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds Bird Guide

North American Birds Photo Gallery by Peter LaTourrette - smallish photos but helpful and nearly complete for North America; link list on the left. I use it often, although not as often as I use my books.

What Bird . com - from the basics to the more specific, an easy guide with plenty of possibilities

Building Birding Skills from Cornell Lab

Parts of a Bird Body



The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is informative and heart-warming and true. A documentary, not fiction. That movie changed my relation to birds.

Pale Male***/ is the fascinating story of a Red-tailed Hawk who takes up residence in New York City's Central Park under — or should I say — over the watchful eyes of many of NYC's people who become fans. Told with grace and style and intelligence.

A Murder of Crows is a really really stupid name for an outstandingly informative and entertaining documentary about birds, some of whom are smarter than some of us. It is cute that a flock of crows are sometimes called a murder of them, but this story has nothing to do with murdering crows, so it's not even a bad pun. It's just a stupid title for a documentary on how smart crows are, and they are very smart indeed. The narrator says ravens are even smarter, then doesn't tell us anything more about ravens. I'm a big fan of birds, and I've often photographed and wondered about crows. I've even repeated that they are very smart, but this movie proves it in many remarkable and visual ways. — from my Recent Movies Revued page.

Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air is on Public TV, but you can find it here anytime — it's fascinating for us Hummingbird lovers. There's even an introduction to it.

Production Value can usually be all but be forgot for most DVDs. Even sappy heart smarmers have remarkable visual high standards for the audio and visual portions of our programs. I (a bird photographer of some little experience) had to notice that the people who put together Birds, Birds, Birds!: An Indoor Birdwatching Field Trip*** cared not a whit about focus in any of the video segments in this primarily audio program. Most of the still photographs were in f socus, but barely. A pity with such colorful characters. It's always intriguing how different nationalities pronounce "universal" onomatopoetics, like "meow," which is strictly Estados Unitosian. In this presentation — it is not a movie — a woman gives American English verbalizations to bird songs, which luckily also occupy the soundtrack, though usually at less volume. Her voicings are traditional and how many of these birds came to be named, but they sound nothing like the bird noises presented, and I can't imagine remembering them. Of course, my audial memory sucks.



Cornell Lab of Ornithology including The Birds of North America

Birds of Stanford - remarkable scholarship about birds that visit Stanford University in Palo Alto, California

Robot Birdwatcher Seeks elusive ivory-billed woodpecker believed extinct for half century

Splish, splash, drip, zip: birds do all kinds of things to fix their feathers. It's a life-or-death job! — Bird grooming techniques - This page keeps referring to photographs, but apparently whoever owned them got them back. Still, nice information.



Movements and Mortality of American White Pelicans Fledged in Three Montana Colonies — may be read online

Foraging behavior of American white pelicans (Pelecanus Erythrorthyncox) in Western Nevada - very short

American White Pelican / Rough-billed Pelican — brief description and other info, most of it seems accurate

Familiar Birds - American White Pelican - a first-person account of visiting and seeing where they nest


Eastern bluebirds in Blue Ridge, Georgia - live cam


Nature / Behind the Scenes of Hummingbirds on PBS — and the whole program, Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air on PBM

Hummers in California - off air when I visited, but they'll be back, and you can always watch archives


Barn Owls Live  from California - Watch them through their whole cycle, many times a year — utterly fascinating in real time and with archival videos.


Storks in Zaragoza, Spain high above a busy street

There's lots more live and other links online about birds. This is just a bare introduction.